Ice-climbing; not for the faint hearted

Ice-Climbing having evolved out of rock climbing is not for the faint of heart, and surely ascending a vertical surface of slippery ice does exhilarate the soul. Ice-Climbing is an adrenalin-rushing extreme sport, demanding your whole attention, which is rapidly growing as a Winter activity.


Being part of an active family with my husband, has its perks; I am healthier, fitter and stronger than I have ever been in my life, and I love that! We have also bonded, on a new level as a couple seeing our love of exercise as a daily necessity.

This winter just past, as a Christmas present, I organized a full day ice-climbing expedition for my husband. Having skied since he was a child, he enjoys nothing more than to be out on the snowy slopes. A friend suggested the idea; to develop his survival skills in such conditions. Lately he has been hiking by himself, up mountains in the dangerous off-limit areas, to ski down again, so this kind of experience was only going to compliment the time he spends doing so.

Being Australian, and growing up in a desert country, I am not a fan of the cold weather, put me on a beach any day, and I will be happiest. So, my heart kind of sank a little when my husband asked me to accompany him. A full day outdoors in the cold mountain ranges is definitely not my cup of tea, but I had to agree to go to keep him happy.

To back track; 6 years ago I committed to the sport of snowboarding. I loved the idea of it and was hoping to be able to spend time doing this while my husband skied. Unfortunately I kept experiencing circulation issues with my feet. After a short period, they became very cold to the point that they numbed and I would have to go back indoors. With this in mind, my main concern on this day trip was not how frightening it was going to be, but whether I was going to be warm enough to be outdoors in the snow all day, at a higher-than-normal altitude.

Preparing for sub-freezing temperatures, and wearing the right gear is so important in these conditions and knowing what could happen, I made sure I was well rugged up.
What I wore;SONY DSC

  • Compression tights, which are fantastic for extra support and keeping everything nice and tight
  • Ski pants
  • Leg Gaitors over ski pants
  • A thin pair of socks as well as wool ski socks
  • Sports Bra
  • Long Sleeved T-Shirt
  • Long Sleeved Fleece
  • 2 ski jackets (yes 2)
  • Pair of ski gloves with inner glove
  • Home made Beanie under my helmet



Once we were at our destination

My husband and I met our guide in the closest town, signed a mandatory death waiver, and then hiked up the mountain range to where we were going to learn to ice-climb. Yes, we had to sign a death waiver, which was not so comforting!

The hike was very demanding physically, as the paths you create to walk up are so small, slippery and high up. My adrenalin was peaking and I really wanted to climb down the mountain, get in the car and just wait till my husband was done. I really was okay with that! But, alas there was no turning back!

Once we were at the base of the mountain, our guide strapped crampons onto our boots which are metal plates with spikes enabling you to get a sturdy foot hold, gave us a tutorial on the basics of ice climbing and we were off.

SONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCWhat happened over the course of the day was completely unexpected. I really excelled while my husband did not do so well. I easily adapted to the cold (if I was not dressed properly I do not think that this would have been the case), and managed to conquer my fear and climb to the top of our mountain. On the other hand, my husband really struggled with the exercise, almost giving up a few times. He eventually climbed to the top of the mountain but he needed a lot of encouragement and support to do so.

The whole experience was continually heart pounding and so so petrifying. We had to put complete trust into our equipment – ropes, crampons and ice picks – and our judgement on deciding which way was the best way to climb. It was so slippery, and ice breaks off so easily, it was just really demanding emotionally and physically.

However, once the daylight started to fade and we headed back down the mountain, I thought to myself — “Wow Libby that was so unbelievable”. Checking in with my husband it appeared he was of the same mindset, we both felt so invigorated, amazed and accomplished. It was so beautiful to be outdoors all day in the snow; for me this was a first. Nature truly is a beautiful thing whether hot or cold, and so is having a husband I have much to share with. I am truly so lucky! It was a phenomenal experience.

Readers – Would you ever try ice-climbing?

Thanks for stopping by Willy B Mum.

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